Not wishing to brag or anything but I’m not exactly a stranger when it comes to judging global bartending programs, PATRÓN Perfectionists amongst them. That said, sitting in front of a bartender, watching them do their thing, hearing their stories and tasting their drinks in person is totally different to doing the job ‘blind’.
Don’t get me wrong, taking the face-to-face, liquid to lips element out of the equation was incredibly exciting – it got me engaged in a totally different way. For starters, I took much longer considering and contemplating every element of each submission. I could. I was afforded the luxury of time. In a traditional judging set-up, you have 10 minutes or so to rate the experience. The breakdown and scoring may differ but generally, you’re awarding marks for creativity, taste, visual appeal of the cocktail and the presentation itself, before you’re on to the next one. Then there’s the all-important deliberation process where you and the two or three fellow judges come together and share your thoughts at the end. But this was different. The decision was mine and mine alone. Oh the pressure.
So, what was it like? Honestly? Pretty damned nerve-racking. In this scenario, with the highly-coveted and first-ever Wild Card place in the PATRÓN Perfectionists Global Final Event up for grabs, the intensity was real. I knew how much it meant to each of the 15 competitors who had come in a very close second in their national finals and having been privileged enough to have visited the Hacienda PATRÓN on previous occasions, I had some idea of what an incredible experience lay ahead. Let me tell you, I had to have some serious words. With myself.
How it worked
The mission which I had happily chosen to accept entailed working my way through 33 carefully put together pages, comprising rules, recipes, photographs of said recipes and the answers to the question put to all of the Wild Card bartenders: ‘Tell us about your PATRÓN Perfectionists experience so far and what you think you could gain from participating in the global final event at the Hacienda PATRÓN.’ Names of the bartenders, their place of work and the country they were representing were completely off limits. As was any clue about the way the bartender chose to identify. What I did have to go on was the brief. While having expanded with more educational modules and different challenges to test the many aspects of bartending, the cocktail I was tasked with judging should hero a blend of PATRÓN Silver and the bartender’s hometown (as in the name of the entry challenge: Hometown Hero), plus access to the PATRÓN Pantry of ingredients.
The entire process took a few days. Like I said, with more time to peruse the recipes and read the supporting statements, I gave the job in hand all of the care and attention I believed it deserved. I started by first reading and making a mental note of the ones that resonated with me and why, then I would go back over them, tasting them in my mind. Some were definitely my kinda drinks, the sort I wouldn’t hesitate to order in a bar. Others were a little more curious and dare I say, risk-taking and creative. How would they play on the palate? Would the PATRÓN Silver shine through? Were they created with PATRÓN and its values in mind? Once tasted, would I want to sip through to the end? So many questions, so many thoughts, so many dilemmas.
And the supporting statements didn’t help. Everyone was unanimous in their praise for PATRÓN, the competition and the opportunity to grow their experience and make new friends – of course they were. So I based my choices on the cocktails that got my juices going and to my mind, fulfilled the brief.
In the end, I opted for the drink that sat at the more intriguing end of the spectrum; a cocktail featuring crème de violette, a bar spoon of absinthe and homemade fermented rice wine. Along with the PATRÓN Silver, of course… For me, there was no doubt that the home that this cocktail, Himno was hero-ing was based in Asia. And given the name of the challenge, that was the point of exercise after all.
The Wild Card winner
Huge congratulations to Choni Song, Bar Manager from Tribeca Lounge Bar, Nanjing, China who joins the line-up of amazing talent heading to the Hacienda PATRÓN in Guadalajara for the PATRÓN Perfectionists Global Final Event from 24 to 30 March. More than a grand finale, this year for the first time, the bartending program will take in a selection of surprise challenges throughout the week for bartenders to participate in. Bartenders, are you ready? Your adventure is less than two months away…
45ml PATRÓN Silver Tequila
20ml lime cordial
10ml Crème de Violette
1 bar spoon absinthe
20ml homemade fermented rice wine*
Shake and fine strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with rice paper.
*Soak 500g sticky rice in coconut water for 8 hours. Blend the coconut water after soaking with coconut flesh together and put in the bottom of the pot, then put soaked sticky rice above it. Use low heat to steam the rice for 30 minutes. Let cool down to about 35 degrees. Put 3g of yeast and the coconut blend with sticky rice and stir, leaving a hole in the middle. Ferment for 48 hours. Add another 500g of the coconut blend and ferment for 24 hours. Boil the fermented liquid in order to sterilise. Keep in fridge for 2 weeks. You can serve a small bowl of fermented sticky rice to your guest while awaiting the cocktail.
Introducing the PATRÓN Perfectionists 2022/2023 Global Finalists
Please be upstanding for the 15 fabulous competitors who earned the title of PATRÓN Perfectionists National Winner in their respective countries. Each one of them showcased their talent, commitment to their craft and ability to create top notch PATRÓN cocktails while delivering a superb drink experience which told a story of their place of origin.
They’ll be heading to Hacienda PATRÓN as Global Finalists – congratulations to them all!
L-R from top:
Alex Boon – Pearl Diver Cocktails and Oysters, Melbourne, Australia
Hometown Hero Cocktail: 60 Hands Highball – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, mango liquor, Verjuice, lacto fermented mango syrup, clarified mango juice
Dash Tume – Quetzal, Toronto, Canada
Hometown Hero Cocktail: The Percussionist – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, black trumpet mushroom gum syrup, Lapsang souchong-infused Amontillado sherry, pasilla chilli
Gabriel Pons – Frida Restaurant, Bordeaux, France
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Paxta Mama – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, Pacharán Sloe Cordial, Verjus, first oyster water, blood orange soda
Adam Alvarado – Aereo Café Bar, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Bee My Hero! – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, honey-lavender syrup, Manzanilla Sherry, tartaric acid
Mor Koral – Cocktail Kitchen Company, Israel
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Corner Stone – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, rocket leaves, white grapefruit juice, citrus vinaigrette
Lola Lau – Hope & Sesame, Shenzen, China
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Coconut Chicken Por Favor – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, coconut chicken cordial, verjus, soda water
Andrea Benvegna – SURF, Imperia, Italy
Hometown Hero Cocktail: EVO – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, lime juice, sugar syrup, Oloroso Sherry, juice of taggiasca olive
Sabrina Traubner – European Bar School, Cape Town, South Africa
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Green Rocket – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, lime juice, spiced Sparletta Cream Soda, white cacao & coconut cream foam
Logan Demmy – The Fox, Nashville, USA
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Super Malo Fabulous – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, fortified wine, Champagne, hot chicken spiced green apple oleo
Jayde Henderson – Zamenhof, Göteborg, Sweden
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Sour Said The Fox – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, Benedictine DOM, Galliano L’Autentico, Verjus, rowanberry cordial
Max Macauley – The Locale, Glasgow, UK
Hometown Hero Cocktail: The Forgotten Fruit – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, Fino Sherry, Scottish Wild Absinthe (SweetDram), Sunset Soda (carbonated pectinex and ascorbic apple juice)
Denys Cherkasov – La Salita Restaurante, Valencia, Spain & Portugal
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Wilderness – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, cordial “la Tereta” (rosemary, honey, saffron, jalapeños, wood), peach crème, saline solution
Kaleb Berry – Roka, Dubai, UAE
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Milk of the Desert – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, Laban Punch, cardamom pod
Kristina Tubig – Southbank Cafe + Lounge, Muntinlupa, Philippines
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Salo Salo – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, carabao & coconut milk liqueur, Fino Sherry, saline solution
Telmo Pacheco – No Idea, Zurich, Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Hometown Hero Cocktail: Pine-Pineapple-Apple-Pine – PATRÓN Silver Tequila, dry apple cider, stone pine needle tepache